Hotshot Hume hits heights at Lahinch

THE youngest and oldest players in the field met with mixed fortunes in yesterday’s second round of the South of Ireland Championship at Lahinch.

Whereas the richly talented 17-year-old Jack Hume required only 27 holes to earn his place in this morning’s draw, 65-year-old Noel Pyne, making his 49th appearance in the event, was beaten by Richard Bridges from Stackstown.

Irish golf has been blessed with a succession of highly talented young players over the past couple of decades and recent events suggest another could very well be looming on the horizon.

Hume, a native of Naas and a member of Rathsallagh, captured the headlines in 2010 when he emulated the feat of Raymond Burns in 1989 by winning each of the four provincial boys titles.

He has since moved on seamlessly to the senior championship scene and finished 14th in the East of Ireland over the Whit weekend. Nobody was more impressed with his form yesterday than his second round victim, Joe Lyons, who commented: “He’s as good as I’ve seen for his age and he’s a nice young fellow as well. He made absolutely no mistakes.”

Hume arrived at Lahinch directly from Rosses Point, where he had starred for Leinster in the Boys Interprovincial Championships, and again showed his prowess when finishing even par for the 27 hole qualifying rounds.

Apparently as fresh as ever, he went out yesterday and shot six birdies in beating Michael Buggy from Castlecomer by 5&4 in the first matchplay round before accounting for Lyons, the 2007 West of Ireland champion, by 6&5.

Hume enrolled in the Darren Clarke Golf School in Co Antrim last September and has since met and come under the British Open champion’s close scrutiny.

He has been playing since he was 10 or 11 years old under the watchful eye of coach Brendan McDaid at Rathsallagh and now works with Seamus Duffy when in the North.

“Darren just advised me to keep doing what I’ve been doing,” said Hume.

“I was as delighted as everyone else when he won the Open although I have to admit that Tiger Woods has been my inspiration since I started playing around the age of 10 or 11 and I hope to see him come back and go head-to-head with Rory (McIlroy).”

As for his two wins yesterday, the youngster, who also has his sights set on a pro career, simply commented: “I played well and the boys made mistakes. I holed putts at the right time and didn’t drop any shots.

Someone told me that Joe had won the West but you can only play who you’re playing. He was one up after two but I then won three in-a-row and holed a 25 footer for a birdie at the 7th, a difficult hole, which was very nice and went on to turn 4 up.”

There was no way back from there for Lyons and Hume now goes forward to meet Chris Moulds from Lisburn, who yesterday defeated Geoff Lenehan of Portmarnock, one of the trio who set a new course record of 66 here on Saturday, and former finalist Michael O’Kelly from Limerick.

Noel Pyne, a former captain and president of Lahinch and a brother of Richard, the current captain, first contested the “South” in 1963 and now, at the age of 65, hopes to make it appearance number 50 next year. He only got in this time from the waiting list, operating off a handicap of 1.5. But a round of 73 in Saturday’s qualifying round saw him reduced to 1.2, a mark likely to earn the former Clare hurler a place next year.

“But I’d have to return eight cards in the meantime to retain that mark,” he smiled ruefully. “It would be a great achievement and I’m still playing decent golf.

“I was all square today playing the 9th but let my drive slip away to the right, lost that one and Richard (Bridges) played very well from there on and holed a big putt for a birdie on 14 to finish it.”

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